Last year Hyundai showed off its autonomous Ioniq 5 capable of Level 4 self-driving and now it is being put to use as part of a driverless ride hailing service opened today in Seoul, South Korea. The city’s mayor and another official were the first RoboRide passengers as they were taken along a route in the Gangnam district, the only one where the service is currently being offered.
However, unlike similar services in America that have already started offering completely driverless rides, these RoboRides from Hyundai will always have a safety driver on board. The manufacturer doesn’t mention when it might stop requiring a safety driver, but it does say vehicles will accommodate up to three passengers and they will first offer rides to company employees.
Gallery: Hyundai RoboRide
Hailing a RoboRide in an autonomous Ioniq 5 will be done through a dedicated app called i.M that will function much like the ones from Waymo or Cruise. It will rely on artificial intelligence from startup Jin Mobility, the company behind the i.M platform.
According to Woongjun Jang Senior Vice President and Head of the Autonomous Driving Center of Hyundai Motor Group,
At Hyundai Motor Group, we are developing level 4 autonomous driving technology based on the internally developed Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), whose functionality and safety are verified through mass production and successful commercial launch. We expect this RoboRide pilot service will be an important inflection point that will enable us to internalize autonomous driving technology.
Gallery: Hyundai Ioniq 5 Robo Taxi at IAA 2021
Just like other companies (of which not all are carmakers) operating in the autonomous ride hailing business, Hyundai says its biggest gain from all of this is getting these systems to work well enough so that it could eventually integrate them into its production vehicle.
The reason the service only works in one district (out of twenty five that make up the city) is because Hyundai had to collaborate with the local government in order to get make the traffic lights in the area smart so that they can communicate with self-driving vehicles. This process began in 2019 and since then the manufacturer has been testing its autonomous tech in Gangnam, gathering what it describes as “copious data.”